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Leif Garrett
Birth name Leif Per Nervik
Born November 8, 1961 (1961-11-08) (age 48)
Origin Hollywood, California,
United States
Genres Rock
Occupations Actor/Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1966–present
Labels Atlantic (USA, 1977-1981)

Leif Garrett (born Leif Per Nervik; November 8, 1961) is an American singer and actor. He became famous as a teen idol and received publicity as an adult for his drug abuse and legal troubles.



Garrett began his entertainment career at age five. He and his sister Dawn Lyn worked a variety of small acting jobs. Both siblings co-starred in the horror movie Devil Times Five as juvenile mental patients who almost innocently go on a murder spree at an isolated ski resort; their mostly-obnoxious victims included a pre-Dukes of Hazzard Sorrell Booke. Dawn and Leif also guest-starred on an episode of Gunsmoke with a pre-Star Wars Harrison Ford.

Leif's more-notable performances include: the breakthrough role of Jimmy Henderson on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice; the protagonist's son Mike Pusser from the Walking Tall movies; the recurring role of Zack Russell on the ABC-TV series Family. Leif also played the role of Leonard Unger, the son of Felix Unger (played by Tony Randall), on the ABC-TV series The Odd Couple, a part that was previously played by Willie Aames.

In autumn of 1976, Garrett signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records and recorded his first album, Leif Garrett. The album was released in 1977 and his first four singles charted modestly on the US Hot 100, with his cover version of "Runaround Sue" reaching the highest at #13. In mid-1978, he signed with Scotti Brothers Records and recorded his second album Feel the Need. The album's first single, "I Was Made For Dancin'", reached #10 on the US Hot 100 and #4 on the British Chart. However, subsequent singles failed to crack the Top 20 in either country. Nevertheless, Garrett continued to record, releasing the albums Same Goes For You (1979), Can't Explain (1980), and My Movie of You (1981) in quick succession.

In the 1980s Garrett returned to acting, appearing in a small role as Bob Sheldon in the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola film The Outsiders. In 1985, he starred in Shaker Run as a mechanic (his part was beefed up in the last minute by newly-minted screenwriter Stephen Ryder) and in Thunder Alley as the lead singer of a pop band that is torn apart by drugs. Other notable Leif Garrett movies from the decade include Delta Fever and the horror film Cheerleader Camp.

After a break from 1990 to 1995, Garrett returned to acting and singing, appearing in 1995's low-budget horror film Dominion, touring with The Melvins, and recording vocals for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on their album The Crybaby. In 1998 he released The Leif Garrett Collection, a greatest hits collection, and in 1999 formed the band Godspeed with Christopher Wade Damerst and Michael Scott (The Distortions, Deadtime Stories). They recorded a three song EP on Garrett's own label, Tongue and Groove Records, and debuted on The Rosie O'Donnell Show but broke up after only a few performances. In 2003, Garrett appeared as himself in the David Spade film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. He also sang and co-wrote "Former Child Star" for the film's soundtrack and was one of the singers of "Child Stars On Your Television", which played over the ending credits.

Garrett's stage work includes playing the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and, more recently, playing in The National Theatre of The Deaf's production of A Child's Christmas In Wales (in late 2000). He also appeared in summer stock at The Barn Theatre's production of Old Timer in 2001.

In September 2006, Garrett appeared on the Celebrity edition of Fear Factor. He won the grand prize of US$50,000.

On New Year's Eve 2006, Garrett first appeared in Las Vegas with retro act Original Idols LIVE! hosted by Barry Williams and also featuring the Bay City Rollers, Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods, The Cowsills with selected appearances by Merrill Osmond, Tony DeFranco and Danny Bonaduce.

In August 2007, CMT cast Garrett in Ty Murray’s Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge. He was among nine celebrities cast on the show; however he quit after one show, citing soreness and lack of desire to continue.[1]

In November 2007, Garrett released his new album, Three sides of.... He voiced himself in the animated television series Family Guy episode "The Thin White Line".

In 2008 the producers of TruTV's The Smoking Gun Presents: World's Dumbest... added Garrett to their cast, which features comedic commentary from celebrities like Garrett who have had brushes with the law. On the show, Garrett frequently spoofs his past troubles and public persona and participates in a wide variety of sketches and skits drummed up for him by the show's producers.

Personal life

From 1979 to 1985, Garrett dated actress Nicollette Sheridan. The relationship began when Sheridan was 15. The two lived together in the home of Garrett's mother. During the late 1980s and early 1990, Garrett dated Justine Bateman and later Elaine Bilstad.

Personal troubles

In 1979, three days before his 18th birthday, Garrett crashed his car while drunk and under the influence of Quaaludes. The accident left his passenger and best friend Roland Winkler a paraplegic. A guilt-stricken Garrett publicly promised to look after Winkler, as his friend's mother later filed a $25 million negligence lawsuit against him. Garrett insisted that he did not have the money and the suit was eventually settled out of court for $7.1 million, leaving the friends estranged [2] until Winkler was approached by VH1 to film a 1999 episode of the television series Behind The Music. The episode featured Garrett's reunion with an apology to Winkler. Winkler forgave Garrett and acknowledged that Garrett's actions following the accident may actually have saved his life.[3]

Despite claiming on Behind the Music not to have used drugs since a 1996 intervention, Garrett was arrested for possession only months after the episode aired. Garrett was arrested again in March 2005 and pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine. However, he subsequently violated his probation, prompting a judge to issue a bench warrant for his arrest in December.

On January 14, 2006, Garrett was arrested on a Metro Red Line subway platform in downtown Los Angeles, California, for allegedly not having a ticket.[4] Heroin and Quaaludes were found in his possession, and Garrett was held in jail without bail before being sentenced to a live-in drug rehabilitation program. He left the program, believing it to be too strict, and was consequently sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years' probation on May 11, 2006. He was credited with the time served since March 30, when he was placed in custody for failing a drug test.

On February 2, 2010, Garrett was arrested again for possession of narcotics. Black Tar Heroin was found in his shoe. After denying having any drugs on his body, he finally admitted to police that he had black tar heroin in his shoe. He posted $10,000 bail and was charged with a felony count of heroin possession.[5]



  • 1977 - Leif Garrett US #37
  • 1978 - Feel the Need US #34
  • 1979 - Same Goes for You US #129
  • 1980 - Can't Explain US #185
  • 1981 - My Movie of You
  • 1998 - The Leif Garrett Collection
  • 2003 - "F8" pronounced 'Fate'
  • 2003 - "F8 Demos" pronounced 'Fate'
  • 2007 - Three Sides of...

Chart singles

  • 1977 "Surfin' USA" US #20
  • 1978 "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" US #58
  • 1978 "Runaround Sue" US #13
  • 1978 "The Wanderer" US #49
  • 1979 "I Was Made for Dancin'" US #10, UK #4
  • 1979" "Feel the Need" US #57, UK #38
  • 1979 "When I Think of You" US #78
  • 1980 "I Was Looking for Someone to Love" US #78
  • 1980 "Memorize Your Number" US #60
  • 1981 "Runaway Rita" US #84

Uncharted singles

Other recording appearances

Garrett has sung on releases by The Melvins (The Crybaby), The Crush Ups ("Betty Ford For X-Mas") and Liberty n' Justice ("Sight Unseen" on Soundtrack of a Soul), among others.


Television work


External links

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